The Lost Temple Of Cahl: Chapter One
19 year old Richard Martin had felt depressed all day. Not only had he taken the extraordinary step to drop out of a university he loved, now he had to deal with the person he hated the most. He was in his own kitchen, slumped on a chair staring blankly at a newspaper on the table that proudly proclaimed that it was ‘crammed full of jobs.’
Unfortunately for him, he wasn’t the sole occupant of the kitchen at the time. Across the room, was a pencil thin woman dressed in a smart suit that seemed to ooze authority. Her hair was tied back into a bun, and she sported a pair of thin rimmed glasses that perched precariously on the end of her nose. This was his stepmother, a woman he hated with all the passion he could muster. True, she had nursed his father through the dark times that followed the death of his first wife, but that still didn’t take away the fact that, in Richard’s eyes she was utterly unlikeable.
This so called devil woman, known to most as Louise, was buried in one of the several cupboards that stretched across one side of the kitchen. She made a small noise of approval as she located two mugs and placed them on the counter.
“Coffee?” she asked without looking round. “Tea please!” came the quick reply. “I don’t like coffee! You know that,”
“Sorry!” came the rather blunt and insincere apology. Richard glared at her as she carefully poured herself a coffee and a tea for Richard; as usual she deliberately made a rather strong tea for Richard’s liking; but Richard endeavoured not to complain.
Louise took a sip of her own drink before deciding to serve Richard his, another one of her little games, he thought angrily to himself. He allowed her to place it on the table in front of him before mumbling a barely audible thank you.
Richard knew who had put the paper on the table, and he gave her a nasty glare, before she proceeded to speak.
“You’ll be needing that!” she said in a matter of fact way. “Really?” asked Richard casually.
She shifted her position to take a seat at the same of table as Richard, opting to sit directly opposite him, in a clear psychological ploy. Richard knew that she wanted him to look at her, she wanted to see the shame that he felt. But he would not do it, as far as he was concerned, this was his medusa and a look into those piercing eyes would mean a life in stone.
Growing increasingly impatient at Richard’s unwillingness to engage with her she elected to launch into a full blown monologue of how Richard had ruined his life, by not only dropping out of university, but getting himself into debt and deciding to go there in the first place.
“I was always said university was a waste of time, but no you never listen to me. You should’ve got a real job!”
Richard who had listened to the tirade with half-hearted interest, explained that it was his decision not hers, and that she had no right to speak to him like a child. He calmly reminded her that she wasn’t his mother. He liked to call her ‘the cuckoo,’ as he’d always felt that she had usurped the family, taking his father away from him.
Speaking of which, the jangling of keys and the sound of footsteps in the porch indicated the homecoming of William, father of Richard and husband of Louise. William sighed, as he acknowledged the noise coming from the kitchen. He gently pushed open the door and bore witness to his son rising sharply from his seat and pointing an accusing finger in his stepmother’s face.
“You’re not part of this family and you never will be!” he said venomously. “Yes I am” she replied, displaying the wedding ring on her right hand as proof.
“Just a piece of metal” said Richard dismissively. Before either party could continue the argument, both were dumbstruck by the sound of a fist slamming down on the kitchen counter. William Martin glared at both wife and son in utter disgust. He gave a shake of the head before speaking his piece.
“I’m sick and tired of these constant arguments. You two will have to learn get along, or by god I’ll will the sort the pair of you out,” Louise went to speak, but William stopped her in her tracks. “No, don’t you try and play the victim again! I know what this argument is about. I got Richard’s text too!”
Earlier in the day, when Richard had officially signed off on his Ancient History course, he had sent two quick texts to William and Louise respectfully, more out of common courtesy than anything. William knew why he’d dropped out. Birmingham University was too local, and he’d long been aware of Richard’s desire to get away, not from him, but Louise.
Looking past his son, to his wife he requested that she leave the room while he speaks to his son. “Okay darling!” came the acquiescent reply in an overly sweet voice. William saw his son roll his eyes in disgust and decided to overlook it.
William and Richard looked startlingly similar, both possessed stocky frames that hovered around the six foot mark, although William was a good few pounds heavier. Likewise, William’s once thick black hair had thinned considerably and begun the permanent transition to grey, whilst Richard sported a nice thick layer of black hair with a few tints of grey on his crown. Their skin was olive coloured and gave them a distinct Mediterranean appearance.
William’s face softened as he beckoned Richard to sit down. Calmly they discussed the day’s events, and Richard offered his reasons for wanting to quit, including the main one that had just walked out of the room.
“I take it you’re going to transfer to another one then?” asked William. “Well yes, hopefully it shouldn’t be too hard. Professor Berghausen’s promised to give me a good reference,”
William allowed himself a smile at the mention of Richard’s favourite lecturer. The gesture baffled him, but the appearance of a golden envelope from William’s trouser pocket made it all as clear as day.
“Funny you should mention him. We actually met by chance in town and he gave me this,” He handed Richard the envelope and watched eagerly as his son opened equally eagerly.
The letter expressed his regret at Richard’s decision, but also his willingness to endorse Richard’s good character, but also made it clear that if he ever needed to talk, then he was free to ‘pop round.’ The professor had supplied his home address for Richard’s convenience.
He handed the letter to his father who gave it a quick read, before stating calmly that Richard should go and speak to him. “He’s the one that can help you the most here. He must think a lot of you?”
“Yes,” replied Richard with a nod. “I’ll go and see him tomorrow,”
William nodded and flashed him a smile before quickly rising from his chair and exiting the kitchen. He was glad that his father still had confidence in him, but he was disappointed by his father’s sudden eagerness to leave. Probably gone to comfort the cuckoo, he thought to himself. She’s an impressive actress I’ll give her that. On more than one occasion she’d used crocodile tears to get her own way. Still, the thought of seeing Professor Horace Berghausen again lifted his spirits considerably. He always seemed to light up in the eccentric old man’s company.
With that happy thought, he rose from his chair, exited the kitchen and retired to his room for the night.